Death toll in fresh violence mounts to 96 in Iraq

By Xinhua

Baghdad : The death toll due to a fresh string of bombings and mortar attacks in Iraq has risen to 96.

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The violence on Monday also left more than 205 wounded, official sources said.

The deadliest attack Monday took place when a suicide bomber blew up an explosive-laden truck near an office of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s party, in the Tabaqchali neighbourhood in northern city of Kirkuk, police said.

A bomb-laden car parked in the same neighbourhood detonated at the same time, the police added.

Up to 80 people were killed and more than 170 wounded by the twin attacks, including many women and children, according to the police.

The powerful blasts damaged all buildings in the neighbourhood and caused the collapse of dozens of nearby houses and shops, said the poliuce, adding that some 50 vehicles caught fire due to the blasts and several people were charred inside their cars.

Kirkuk, 250 km north of Baghdad, has witnessed increasing tension as the Arab and Turkmen residents of the city are fighting Kurdish efforts to join it to the autonomous Kurdish region just to the north.

In Baghdad, at least 16 people were killed and 35 wounded by car bombs, roadside bombs and mortar barrage Monday, as the Iraqi police collected 25 corpses in the capital during the day, an interior ministry source said.

A roadside bomb detonated near an Iraqi army patrol in the Bob al-Sham area in northern Baghdad, killing five soldiers and wounding another, the source said.

In southern Baghdad, mortar rounds landed on the Abu Dsheer neighbourhood, killing two people and wounding six, he added.

A suicide car bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into a checkpoint manned by police commando members in the Harthiyah neighbourhood in the afternoon, killing a commando member and a civilian and wounding 12, including four commando members.

Another car bomb killed two women and wounded five when a car of a man who was freed by his kidnappers detonated in Baghdad’s eastern neighbourhood of Zaiyouna.

The victims were family members of the car owner who had returned home after being freed by his kidnappers. The police said that the kidnappers apparently booby-trapped the man’s car before they released him in order to detonate it when he went back home.

In central Baghdad, a car bomb went off at a residential area in Karradah district, killing a civilian and wounding three others. The blast also damaged two nearby shops, the police said.

Mortar rounds struck a northern Baghdad neighbourhood in the evening, killing four people and wounding eight others.

“Several mortar rounds landed on the Husseiniyah neighbourhood in the evening, killing four people and wounding eight others,” official sources said.

The Iraqi police patrols picked up 25 unidentified bodies from Baghdad’s streets since Monday, the source added.

The bullet-riddled bodies were bound, blindfolded, showing signs of torture, said the sources.

Meanwhile, the US military said that its troops launched a massive assault against insurgents’ strongholds in the vast rural area south of Baghdad Monday.

The offensive, dubbed “Operation Marne Avalanche”, is designed to drive out insurgents from southern Baghdad areas and prevent the flow of weapons and militants into the capital, a military statement said.

The military also said that one of its soldiers was killed Sunday after he received wounds from an explosion while his unit was conducting operations in the northern province of Nineveh.

The latest deaths bring the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq to about 3,615 since the Iraq war broke out in March 2003, according to a media count based on Pentagon figures.